By Kamlesh Tripathi
Caution: 65% of Indian population is below 35 years of age and born after 1979. They want high performance delivered by political parties and not the usual rhetoric divide between –Hindu-Muslim-Sikh-Isaai
Indian political space is currently going through a state of filthy transformation as the political space for each party in India is gradually reducing because of the increase in number of political parties. And this is only increasing the competition; and competition is always good they say, as it helps the consumer and brings out the best in the marketer, which in this case is the political party. And this mind-boggling competition is only going to intensify further, because of the literacy rate of India that now stands at 74%.
And, to explain what I want to say, let us compare the current political landscape of India, with that of the erstwhile auto industry of India, and that too before the MNCs walked in. There were then three car manufacturers that used to manufacture Ambassador, Fiat and Standard brand of cars that had defined markets across India where they used to sell a defined volume per annum and go home merrily. There were stray calisthenics about competing and showing aggression in some pockets but by and large these companies had their pockets and markets as vote banks in politics from where they met their targets and were having a ball of a time, as they never spent on product up-gradation, nor research and development and it is a fact that even without that some of these cars had as many as nine lives, just because there was no competition.
In the same fashion when India got Independence there was only Congress as the major political party in India that kept all other teeny-weeny parties at bay. They were in monopoly and that was one of the reasons why development in India took a back seat, because they kept winning election after election without much of a development. And in fact I hate to say but subtle reality is that had British Empire not ruled India; India would have had a late entry to railroad and many other infrastructure projects.
Congress had many inborn political advantages, such as low literacy rate and monopoly, so until 1991 when PV Narsimha Rao became the prime minister they never thought seriously about big reforms because their vote banks were safe in the hands of Muslim, Christian, schedule caste and schedule tribe pockets-and so also rural. The voting percentages those days were very low as compared to the total population and so with even the aggregate of minority, schedule caste, schedule tribe and rural votes they could grab power and so they were having a ball of time.
Jansangh, later on BJP was always considered a party—of, for and by the Upper class Hindus and had stemmed out of the RSS. And since upper caste Hindus were always a divided lot, BJP could never come to power till the nineties at the centre. And this further helped Congress, who kept ruling the country without any big development agenda but by providing lip service and subsidies to the minorities and also by Hindu bashing.
THE POLITICAL SPACE IN 80-90s
When the multinationals in the auto industry arrived in the nineties, even Indian auto companies improved in quality, new launches, CRM, customer interface and after-sales-service; and so also the markets expanded exponentially. In the same manner with some new political parties entering the fray in eighties and nineties the situation on the ground changed only marginally, as Congress still had the clout but BJP had started breathing formidability. But even with all this politicians of major parties were having a good time.
THE CURRENT POLITICAL SPACE IN INDIA
In the context of politics the MNCs of politics are the new political parties that are gaining grounds in India, thereby increasing competition in the plinth of the Indian political space. One such party at the national level is AAP which has scared BJP quite badly.
EXAMPLE OF AAM ADMI PARTY
When AAP started, political bigwigs of India felt it is just a hangover of Anna movement and it will die down but they finally won Delhi quite formidably. That goes to show people were not happy with the existing political dispensation and were looking for an alternative. Today LG of Delhi and Delhi Police try to disparage AAP at the drop of hat and as much as possible under the garb of rule book as if Indian political always moved as per rule book and this is further helping AAP and exposing the dictatorial mindset of BJP.
WHAT IS PLAGUING THE EXISTING PARTIES
Let me put it as pointers:
- Indian voter is no longer happy with lollipops. They don’t like political arrogance and are clearly looking for talent and not family scions to run India, for the model has failed. Analyse Congress Party’s debacle in the last general elections.
- You can continue to do caste and minority based politics like the way Congress favours Muslims but this space is getting too crowded as there are other parties like SP and MQM who also favour Muslims so the strategy will have to change and parties will have to deliver big-time to survive. As Muslims and other minorities also want jobs and security. Mind you Congress has already reached a pathetic 44 by not willing to change its strategy.
- BJP should not remain as a Hindu mascot alone and should work for Indians in India if it wants to serve long term.
- Parties and governments should desist from entering into privacy of people by quoting some religious idiotism for the public feels the party and the government is not performing and therefore trying to divert attention—a kind of a wag the dog syndrome.
- Personal touch of leaders will play a big role. Leaders should be approachable and not surrounded by gun toting cops. I should be able to pick up the phone and speak to hitherto arrogant MLA or MP of my area. Currently such politicians are not there but with the burgeoning Indian population and unemployment rate jumping, more youngsters are free to become netas, and mind you they won’t be those unwieldy netas who can’t work without cars, bungalows, and staff. Some trend of this nature is already seen in politicians of AAP party.
- In times to come political parties will have to move away from political sermons, to service providers role as 65% of your population is below 35 years of age who is not too much interested in your sermons but wants service, as the world has moved towards consumerism.
- Like the present day auto industry most political parties need to have consumer centres—professionally managed where voters can visit/call/e-mail and lodge their protests.
- Indian voter has matured and they look for talent and not family run shops.
- There is need to run political establishments in India in a much more professional and transparent manner, with RTI, transparent accounting system just like large corporations. And, also they will have to perform and cover the nation in a much more professional way which will require a much more talented and professional team. And the party that starts first will get the early bird advantage. Enormous youth power is available for political deliverance in the country. And it will have to be cadre based. Something like RSS—but without religious linkages. And I soon see a great role for Management consultants to enter the political arena in converting political parties into political corporations that run the country. Defence of country from external forces and foreign policies will have to be dealt in special manner.
- Voting in India should be allowed electronically and even by post for the masses to vote in large numbers and also to stop ballot-cheating as this will improve the variety of politicians.
- Whosoever comes on a TV screen considers himself as a hero. So stop making heroes of radical leaders of any community. Instead focus on ordinary citizens who are doing great jobs for the country. This should be done across board and not by a particular TV channel to balance TRP ratings
- Muslims and Christians often criticise BJP to be a Hindu party. If that is the case more Muslims and Christians should ask for membership of this party to tilt the balance, after all at the end of the day BJP is only an Indian political party—so catch the bull by its horns. And in the same manner if Hindus feel Samajwadi party or Congress are pro minority, more Hindus should join this party to tilt the balance and once this happens the agenda of political parties will move from religious and caste polarization to hard core performance and development.
The whole gamut looks difficult and impossible, but I guess the world carries on, only with the difficult and impossible as the easy is only left behind.